Designer Spotlight  

Judy Hale

Patterns for Pirates

1) Tell us a little about yourself! What makes your world go ‘round as a designer and in general?

I’m the youngest of five kids in my family.  I’m married to a very supportive husband who I couldn’t run P4P without.  I have a little guy who is 5.5, a baby girl who is 2.5, and a baby boy who is due in June! I grew up around sewing and my mom taught us as we became interested.  I’m tall- about 5’10” and my mom always told me I’d end up sewing as I grew up because it’s harder to find anything to fit in a store. She was right ;) Moms always are aren’t they?? I love designing because it feeds my creative soul.  I enjoy the drafting aspect because I’ve always been “math minded”. I always excelled in math- although I found it boring growing up. Drafting has math and creative design in it, which fits me perfectly.

2) How did you get your start as a pattern designer and how long have you been designing?

I started after I retired from being a kindergarten teacher when my son was born.  I had opened an Etsy shop selling little boys clothing and quickly got my creativity crushed sewing the same garments over and over and over! My sisters both talked me into creating my own line of PDF sewing patterns- which I started off with all little boy designs :).

3) What makes Patterns for Pirates unique? How do you try to differentiate your patterns from others on the market?

I’ve always designed for what I needed in my own life.  So when I began I designed little boys clothing that was for knit (what I loved to put my son in for everyday play and comfort) and why I choose the name, “Patterns for Pirates”- his nursery was in nautical.  I then moved on to design some women’s wear that I wanted for myself and couldn’t find the pattern for. I think when I began there wasn’t a lot of designers out there who loved knit and designed a lot of knitwear, which made me more unique at the time.

4) Where do you draw inspiration from for your designs? Who are you designing for?

I absolutely design for myself and my family.  I’ve always designed for what we need in our own closets! I find the work much easier and more motivating when it is a design that we can get a lot of use of.  So in general my designs tend to be classic staple pieces with some modern options. I’ve never wanted to design super on trend patterns and have them go out of style in a few years.  But, of course I like on trend styling- so I try to get the best of both worlds with a more classic silhouette and have a few options/details be on trend.

5) How would you define your ‘style’ to someone who has never seen your designs?

Everyday wear for the average everyday family.  I don’t tend to do a lot of formal wear. I mostly design for knits and everyday apparel because that is what we’ve always worn as a family.  I do try to get some designs in that are great for church, brunches, parties, etc because those things are part of everyone’s life as well!

6) What is your favorite part of the design process?

I enjoy the drafting aspect most I think.  I love starting a new design up and drafting it out- sewing up that very first pretester.  I’m always most motivated during that part of my job.

7) What do you have planned for 2018? What are you most excited for as a designer?

Well, I have baby boy coming mid June.   So, I’m planning on doing a few more updates to older patterns and taking it a bit easy through the summer and early fall until we’re all getting a bit more sleep ;)  I am planning on making some improvements on our site this year as well and very excited to see that happening!

8) Do you have a favorite pattern in your collection? Why? What do you love about it?

Oh, I’ve been asked this before and it’s REALLY hard to pick! I think the most USED patterns I have are the relaxed raglan, pumpkin spice dolman and favorite tee for myself, the baby bear joggers, pirate playground pants, and jolly roger for my son, me hearties and the new youth boundless dress for my baby girl, and honestly I totally never sew for my husband LOL… he hardly gets anything...he’s probably gotten the most mens henleys, but I’d say he wears his papa bear joggers the most out of everything I have made him. For myself, I love the looser tops… they’re so easy to throw on and feel great in.  For my son he is hard to fit in store bought pants, so I tend to make him more bottoms than tops. The jolly roger is his top pick for when he needs a top though, he loves the baseball style sleeves. For my baby girl I usually pick the quick sews. The me hearties is a circle skirt which sews up so fast. The youth boundless she loves because she has decided she loves princess dresses already, which means maxi length ;) Since it’s lined it is also really quick to sew up as well. And I left out the cocoon cardigan, but I LOVE it for myself and my daughter too- we wear ours constantly! Again a looser fit for me and I love that I can throw it on, be comfortable but look super cute and on trend!

9) What is your least favorite thing to do in regard to sewing and/or designing?

There are a few parts of the tutorial that I really don’t enjoy doing.  Things like yardage requirements, finished measurements, print charts… all very tedious to do and some are actually pretty difficult to do correctly because it is so many numbers/sizes/options included in our patterns you’re bound to miss something.  They’re simple, yet surprisingly challenging to do perfect. Also boring to do ;)

Sewing- I’m not sure.  I usually enjoy everything in the process.  I’ve never been one that hated pressing (I actually love pressing, it makes it look so nice!) or hemming either. I’ll whine about gathering from time to time, but even that doesn’t get much hate from me.   I’ve never had zipper fear or hate either.

I will say, sometimes the process of choosing fabrics is harder for me.  For some reason I can’t quite decide on what fabric I need to sew up and end up spending way too much time pulling fabric and putting it back...eventually taking a picture of a few options and asking my sister to please pick for me before I waste my entire work time ;) I think the real issue is I’ve overbought and have a stash full of fabrics I adore- so it’s so hard to pick JUST ONE!

10) If you could do/accomplish anything as a designer, what would it be? What is your ultimate goal or wish in the realm of pattern design?

I never imagined I would grow P4P even as big as it is currently.  I never had huge ambitions- just that I needed to earn enough from it to be able to make it by without having to go back to my previous teaching career.  I had dreams of one day seeing my patterns in the big shops like Joanns, but since then I’ve faded back from that. I really love being an indie designer and don’t really want for that anymore.  My goal is to help as many sewists out there to fall in love with garment sewing. I always hoped that my designs would reach other sewist that were just like me- someone who just wanted to fill up their family’s closets with those everyday essentials - comfortable and their personal fabrics they picked that fit them just right.  My favorite things to see and hear are excited “firsts”: this is my very first pattern to follow, my first knit garment to sew, my first garment for myself, etc. I LOVE seeing sewist growing and having good experiences sewing clothes they love!

11) What’s your favorite kind of fabric(s) to work with?

Knits! My mother always dressed us very comfortably and so I grew up in a lot of knitwear.  I find it so much more comfortable to wear. I also love rayon. Any rayon in any blend! Rayon just makes it so soft! I can remember even back in high school my mom saying, “you always pick rayon blends”. 

12) Any type of fabrics on your “Do not sew” list?

I don’t love high polyester percentages in my fabrics.  I live in Texas, so it gets so hot in polyester blends since they don’t tend to breathe well.  I also won't wear quilters cottons. I just find them too stiff and uncomfortable to wear. If I sew up a woven fabric it’s usually rayon (surprise ;) ) or another softer, drapier woven.  I will sew them up for my kiddos for pj pants and other things because they love those character prints you can find in them.

13) What kind of machine(s) do you sew on?

Nothing fancy.  I have all Brother machines- a Brother PC420 for my sewing machine, a Brother 1034D serger, and a Brother CV2340 coverstitch. 

14) Anything else you want our followers to know about Patterns for Pirates?

Hmmm… I guess the one thing I will add is that although we’ve grown I’m still just a mama trying to make it working from home.  I have a few assistants that help me now- Nicole, Katy, Alex and we just welcomed Erinn to the team. They help me run the FB group, write blogs, do newsletters, run tester groups, etc.  Sometimes we’re labeled as a bigger company because we have a large FB group, but P4P is mostly just a mama working from home with her laptop and kiddos on her lap ;)

Alexis Davis